Normally, I wouldn't write a trip report for a domestic F trip, since they are typically pretty repetitive. But since the LAX-IAH portion of this trip would be flown on CO's 764 with BusinessFirst seats (although with domestic service) I thought it would be worthy of the report. As I have for the last couple of reports, I am typing this into my phone (a Treo 270) as we go along, so it is somewhat realtime ( as far as the report goes)
Coming out Wednesday night was also on a 764, but due to my last minute purchase, I wasn't able to score upgrades on the way out. At least from here on out my WorldPerks status will Platinum (yep, have flown over 80,000 miles this year) which will help score those last-minutes upgrades. In any case, the 764 in coach is nice and modern, basically identical to the 777 (with the exception of 2-3-2 instead of 3-3-3 seating) in fact, a couple of passengers I overheard thought they WERE on a 777!
May 3rd 2003
CO 46 LAX-IAH
767-400, Seat 2D
My mother had already been planning to fly out to Florida today, long before I knew I would be in town. So we took my little rental Mazda back to Hertz and dropped it off, then took the shuttle over to the airport. First stop was terminal 1 (she was flying WN), so, after I helped her offload her 75 ton suitcase (honestly, how can someone travelling to South Florida need so much clothing?), the shuttle bus rose up on its suspension a good 6 inches and I reboarded to head over to CO's gates at Terminal 6.
There were only a couple of people checking in - having only carryon luggage, I sauntered over to an open kiosk and checked myself in. A center seat for this leg (2-1-2 seating), and a window on the 757 from IAH to FLL. Security -- despite not having a elite line -- went quickly. The CO President's Club is located directly across from gate 62 where the flight will be boarding. It's a fairly smallish PC, but it's better then nothing! While there's a very of the ramp from here, you can only see the Delta gates,(which are mostly empty and dead), and just fleeting glimpses of departing traffic. Well, at least being by the gate means you truly can wait until the last second to leave the PC.
Stepping out 35 minutes before our scheduled departure, the wait to board was only a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, there were a number of families traveling with small children. Several times it was mentioned that the flight was full -- while clearly there were non-rev travelers waiting to the side, it would appear that there were many revenue pax -- unusual for Saturday flights. That said, CO46 is the last flight for 12 hours, so perhaps it makes sense.
Boarding was done from 2L - the 764 is the only 767 that has this, I believe. A couple of F/A's were at the door to help guide traffic -- always a good thing.
Turning left at the door, I had to walk past about 4 rows of coach before getting to the BF cabin. I was surprised to find it had only 20 seats (four rows of five)! For some reason I thought the 764 had more seats up front. I glanced at the CO magazine to see if perhaps this was a higher density 'Hawaii' plane or something but couldn't find the page listing the aircraft layouts (a conspiracy, perhaps?) (note: Seatguru confirms that this was indeed a Hawaii aircraft, even though Continental doesn't mention it anywhere)
As I mentioned, the seats are laid out in a 2-1-2 configuration (as compared to AA's 2-2-2 layout in Business). While there's a bit of a less crowded feeling, my first impression isn't all that great. The seat is definitely an inch and a half, or so, wider, but it doesn't feel as comfy as AA's Recaro seats. It does look to be electrically powered, though. Playing with the seats will have to wait until after takeoff, though One observation I can make, though, is that the armrests are a little low for my liking.
Pushback was right on time. We actually made very good time taxiing for takeoff -- such good time, in fact, that we were lined up on the centerline of the runway before the safety video was over! A couple of F/As had to quickly rush to their seats and buckle up as we started down the runway.
As we climbed out, I spotted a typical LAX menagerie; JAL 747s, an Asiana 777, and on the remote ramp, a trio of Qantas 747s and an ATA Tristar 500.
Once airborne, I played with the seats bit and quickly concluded that the seat is, in my opinion, worese than AA's seat -- with the exception of being electrically powered. Working the recline makes a sound similar to working the flaps!
During takeoff and in flight, it seems much quieter up front than sitting in the front of the 763 - I suspect that has to do with AA'S 763's having the large galley up front -- combined with the shorter length of the 763, you get more noise.
Given short this leg is, the IFE is started just about 10 minutes into the flight. Pulling out the PTV, I discovered it's nicely stowed in the right armrest, where you fluip up the top of the armrest and pull the monitor out. While not terribly large ( really about the size of the Y unit), it comes out smoothly and has a good picture.
Lunch was typical CO midcon fare, soup and salad or sandwich. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. One interesting thing about the seat here is that there's both the CO- style two prong audio, as well as a single, more conventional, audio jack.
Ongoing, the flight was quite smooth, and surprisingly quiet (from a people perspective), despite all the little kids on board (including two toddlers up front. Our cruising altitude was 35000 feet.
Just as we came abeam of San Antonio, we entered a mild bank -- a change of direction confirmed on the airshow displays a minute later. Then power started to cone back, and sure enough, an announcement from the flightdeck informing us that we were in our initial descent towards Continental Town -- err... Houston.
At this point, with a touch less than 30 minutes to go, a round of icewater was brought out. Overall, somehow, the total service doesn't seem as comprehensive as last week's flight from SJC to IAH -- perhaps that flight is just long enough to qualify for a more comprehensive meal service?
As we dropped down through 21000 feet, we started to pick up some chop, and the fasten seatbelt light came on. Cameras that we could switch to would be really cool; the only time I've experienced those were on JAL's 744 fleet, but they were nothing but cool.
The napkin I got with my glass of water has the typical CO logo on it, but it also has three little flowers printed on it...again making me wonder if this aircraft is some kind of Hawaiian configuration -- otherwise I find it hard to believe that one would operate a 764 with such a small percentage of high-revenue seats onboard.
As usual, it's agonizing to watch the distance to the airport stay the same as we were vectored around to approach IAH from the east. Touchdown was smooth, and, despite being significantly early, our gate was ready for us!
Getting off the plane reminded me of my on pet peeve with the 764 -- the fact that open luggage bins project noticably into the aisles. If you aren't careful you could really brain yourself! Since the BF cabin doesn't reach all the way to the 2L door, getting off is just an uncoordinated madhouse. but off the plane and over to C-43 I go, stopping at the South President's Club for a quick coke before boarding (and to finish this portion of the trip report!).
757-200, Seat 2F
Strolling over to C-43, I see the boarding process has already started. So tons of people are congregating around the gate, waiting for their row to be called, and generally making it hard to tell who is actually in the boarding queue, and who is just waiting. I was hoping that there would be space in the overhead for my suit carrier (I can put my briefcase/overnighter under the seat if need be). To my surprise, only a handful of people in First had boarded, and the overheads were almost entirely empty. So I stowed my gear and listened to a lady explain to her older mother that the footrest wasn't really a footrest but, rather, a life preserver!
As another seat observation, I would say that the 757's domestic F seat is slightly wider than the BF seat, probably due to much thinner armrests.
Pushback was right on time at 6:00pm. Interestingly enough, after a brief push stright back, the engines were fired up, and then we made a tight 180 to the right and taxied out of the gate area. On the way out, I spotted the Peter Max 777 -- always a pleasent site. Our taxi out was otherwise uneventful and we didn,t experience any queues for departure.
Once airborne, drink orders were taken, and we were asked if we wanted the meal (turkey and swiss sandwich with split pea soup). CO doesn't typically offer any choices on any of the meal service between FLL an IAH -- you either have the one choice or don't eat. Those who care, can order a special meal, I assume -- although I don't know how that works for those who get upgraded fairly close to departure time.
The meal, though, is quite outstanding -- this is about the fourth time this year I've been on CO1748 and it's been the same thing each time. Honestly, I thought it was much better than either option on today's LAX-IAH leg.
Over the Gulf we started picking up some turbulence from afternoon convection, so the seatbelt light was essentially left on the entire trip. At 8:35pm (eastern) the engines were pulled back -- hopefully because we're making good time and are ready to start descending, and not because the pilots expect worse chop ahead!
And just a few moments after I typed this, of course, the ride goes glassy smooth! Of course by now, we are clearly descending, and indeed, at 8:46pm the lights of Florida'( Gulf Coast slide under the window. So it looks like we will, in fact, be early by some 20 minutes. I'll be happy to be home for a couple of days, that's for sure!
As we descended down over the greater Miami area, there were a coupls of fireworks shows going on just to the south of the approach path -- always a fun thing to watch from the air. Our arrival into FLL was smooth, and being that there's not a whole lot of activity at this time of night, there were no delays in getting into the gate and off the plane almost 20 minutes early.
All in all, not a bad trip, but I wouldn't bother scheduling my trips around a crack at the BF cabin domestically.